Winter’s coming, so get your homes ready for it

Published on Thursday, 9 November 2017 11:59 - Written by MECHELE AGBAYANI MILLS, Better Business Bureau

Winter’s coming, so get your homes ready for it

The first day of winter is a little over a month away, and many consumers may be looking for ways to save money on home heating during the coming months. The Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas and the United States Department of Energy also encourage homeowners to conduct a home energy assessment to determine how slight corrections could make your home more energy efficient and likewise lower energy costs.

It’s wise to ensure your home is ready for harsh weather by scheduling biannual checkups for your heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. Performing an assessment before summer and again before cold weather strikes can prevent headaches and financial strain long term.

The BBB offers the following tips for winterizing the home:

- Hire a professional. Hiring an expert as to determine the health of your existing HVAC equipment can also help you save money in the long run. Go to bbb.org to find a professional you can trust.

- Inspect caulking and weather stripping. To prevent air leaks, homeowners need to inspect the caulking around windows and doors to check for cracking and peeling. In addition, ensure that doors and windows are shut tightly and no cold air is coming in due to worn down weather stripping.

- Clean your heating ducts. Ducts should be cleaned out once every two years. Consider adding insulation to any exposed ductwork in order to prevent losing heated air.

- Change your air filters. Many of us fail to replace our air filters as often as we should. Clean filters are a great way to reduce indoor air pollution during the time your home will have less natural ventilation during winter months.

- Prepare your emergency kit. If a winter storm strikes, an emergency kit should have all essential materials in one handy place. An emergency kit should include flashlights, candles and matches, a first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a battery-powered radio. Create the same kit for your vehicle as well, including a few blankets, coats, hand and feet warmers, gloves, etc.

- Sweep the chimney. According to the United States Fire Administration, from 2013 to 2015, an average of 45,900 home heating fires occurred, making heating the second-leading cause of house fires. Not only will the sweeper clean the inside of your chimney, but also take note of and repair structural damage.

- Protect your windows. Window screens should be taken down and replaced with storm windows to provide an extra layer. It’s also a good idea to install storm windows in the attic to stop warm air from leaking through. Investing in a window insulator kit is an inexpensive option to keep out drafts.

- Unclog gutters and ridge vents. Gutters need to be cleaned to prevent any clogs or to break up any clogs that might be present. Rainwater could back up and freeze, causing the gutters to expand and crack. The ridge vents need to be cleaned as well in order to help prevent stagnate air.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.